Geddy Lee: Clockwork Angel

Geddy Lee: Clockwork Angel




For more than 40 years, Geddy Lee’s inimitable expression, sporting bass guitar, and even periodic synthesizer employment were the sonic cornerstones of prog-rock trio, Rush. The Canadian radical was both the highest profile and most influential prog band of its contemporary, and absolutely integral to the writing of prog-rock’s second assembly. Despite crafting music that was uncompromisingly academic, musically complex, and in many ways, downright nerdy, Rush became a massive success and raised a deep obsessive and enthusiastic fanbase. For the uninitiated, we highly recommend checking out the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage for an entertaining and instructing primer on the band, terminated with testimonials from illustrious Rush superfans like Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan.

Rush recently had what is presumed to be its final curtain call as resident drum deity and lyricist, Neil Peart, has retired from drumming wholly. Citing increasing difficulty in performing Rush’s adroit music as he ages and trouble recovering from the rigours of touring, Peart has decided he’d preferably hang’ em up than act those lyrics at a statu that fails to meet his immensely high personal standard.

While this has unhappily effectively aimed Rush, it has afforded Lee the opportunity to both spend some excellence experience with his beloved Norwich Terriers and was engaged in the passions that fall outside of the stardom — namely collecting.

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Geddy Lee and his Heuer” Jo Siffert” Autavia- photo approval: Richard Sibbald

Over the years, Lee’s developed into a noted connoisseur of wines, a obsessive trawler of baseball ephemera, and even recently released a brilliantly well-crafted coffee counter journal cataloging his incredible collection of over 250 antique bass guitars — competently titled Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass. As it turns out, Lee’s collector’s muse is also very much taken with penalty vintage wristwatches.

The melodic icon has amassed an eclectic collection of some 40 patches that includes Canadian-market exclusive Rolexes and Tudors, classic Heuers, intriguing early illustrations from Longines, and even the quirky dress watch. Lee has absolutely propelled himself into a self-education on the minutia, idiosyncrasies, and overall record of wristwatches, crediting the Instagram watch community as a major source of fuel for his ever-growing fascination with watches.

In the following conversation, Worn& Wound schmoozes with Lee about some favourites from his collecting, his admittance into the watch obtaining diversion, his ongoing education as a self-described watch geek, and even glean a bit of collector’s advice from a restless man that’s applied such wise to the pursuit of a great many things.

” I like watches that stretch you in rather than shout at you — things that possess a attractivenes and an sophistication and intricacy, but don’t scream from your wrist .”

Worn& Wound: What was your gateway into watch rallying?

Geddy Lee: I didn’t have a whole lot of interest in collecting watches, but I ever admired specific old-time watches. I feel the very first age-old watch that I ever owned was a Rolex a person in England sold me years and years ago. It wasn’t anything remarkable or particularly collectible, but it was from the’ 30 s and I time thought it was a cool watch. It was a couple hundred horses and I still have it.

Rolex made some stuff alone for the Canadian market through the years, and one of them was this Tudor Oyster Regent, and I picked that up. I thought it had a cool shape to it and I love the sort of Art Deco vibe of those watches. So, I had a few cool watches over the years and enjoyed them, but I didn’t take collecting seriously or anything.

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A few Patek Philippe Calatravas- photo recognition: Richard Sibbald

However, I was in Switzerland many years ago and I happened upon this cool watch shop, and a great conversation with a very nice chap there led to my bequeath with a pitch-black bezel Rolex GMT from 1968, and that was really my gateway watch. I preserved that watch for many years. Over the years, I’d received a few enormous watches as knacks, including a solid gold Universal Geneve Compax. Later I are caught up a’ 68 Jaeger LeCoultre Speedbeat, and it was then that I started peril an interest in certainly obtaining watches.

I’d always missed a nice Patek Calatrava and about three years ago my wife bought me a beautiful older one. Then I found another one that I fell in love with while experimenting them, and it started a bit of a chain reaction. I really love the ones from the’ 40 s- ’6 0s, and I’ve never been much of a modern watch person. I’d say after those Pateks came into my life, I certainly got the bug in a bad way. I had about 5 or 6 watches at that point and never certainly was just thinking about them as something I wanted to keep buying, but after getting that second Patek, I travelled kind of mental. I think it also coincides with the sort of watch lover’s revolution that’s happened on Instagram.

Instagram has completely revolutionized the hobby and how we all interact. How has it affected your own collecting?

Lee: I recall Instagram has been the single biggest boon to watch collecting in forever because it’s the perfect medium for it! Someone can show off a watch that was shot beautifully and you immediately get a big case of the “wantsies, ” and then you research through it. Most watch fans known better 98% of the public will pay no attention to what watch they’re wearing. Simply other watch parties truly notice or know what they’re looking at. The world’s watch devotees have been brought together through Instagram and what would formerly run unnoticed now has this great community and talk to go with it. You post a watch and other collectors become, “wow, that’s cool! ” or “do you like this ref? ” or “look at the dial” or” desire the patina on that! ” The conversation that’s happening is really great. Obviously marketers and dealers have recognized the new audience and it’s all contributed to the price rise, but too to the fanaticism so many of us feel about collecting watches now.

It’s likewise brought out a real interest in the details that drive a watch or make a watch really special; things like dial details and subtleties that take a watch from perhaps being a great watch from a great year, to something watch collectors are actually get excited about, like double- or triple-signed dials, red Subs, or rhythms first. All of these little fluctuations that planned absolutely nothing to your average person, but are the whole game to a real watch geek!

John Mayer recently said in an interview that there’s a quality as a watch collector where you really start focusing on finding as numerous asterisks as possible next to a watch to make it different. Has that been your experience?

Lee: You can equate collecting watches to anything, actually. For me, I have to liken it to collecting bass guitars, and I’m always looking for stuff from the golden era — for Fenders, the pre-CBS period. You do come to a point where you’re looking for that colour no one can find or something really special. God knows it’s majestic enough to have a’ 62 Fender Jazz Bass, but to find one in seafoam dark-green or another surprising plant pigment realise it the holy grail, and I think it’s the same thing with dial modifications or motions. One would like to think the more desirable the movement, the better watch — and that’s primarily true-blue — but add an extraordinary subtlety to it, like an inverted 6, and you miss it all the more.

How vast has your collecting grown since that second Patek cracked the ice?

Lee: I try not to count them because then I have to admit to myself the amount of money I’ve invested, but I’d say I have around 35 -4 0 parts now.

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Geddy’s Heuers- photo approval: Richard Sibbald

It sounds like you’re passionate about a jolly enormous reach of brands and forms. I know you’re a Heuer guy from our previous discussions; are Heuers something you’re still hunting and what have you got from that nature that you’re peculiarly proud of?

Lee: I still affection Heuers and I reflect the Carrera is just about the perfect sized watch for my wrist. I have vast, gargantuan respect for Carreras — I time adoration them. I like a great deal of the different stuff Heuer put out over the years and I cherish Autavias; I have a Jo Siffert Autavia which is one of my favorite watches.

I also adore Rolexes from the early’ 60 s, and I’m really into steel tool watches. I like chronographs a lot, too, but I too admire and like a really elegant dress watch. It’s hard to beat the feeling of wearing a really great Patek Philippe or a Vacheron Constantin. I have great respect for some of the early Longines stuff, too, but you can’t start going down that street without starting to learn about them in a depth way.

And on that road, you learn about what watches suit your wrist, what seems good on you, and what material you can wear and what material you can’t wear. I cherish the examination of Panerais, but I can’t wear them because they just gaze massive on my wrist. It’s unquestionably a live-and-learn thing. I have some Tissots from the late’ 40 s/ early’ 50 s that are perhaps 33 mm or something like that, and while they’re smaller, they’re really beautifully-made watches and I find those are great to wear daily. I have been previously been getting into the Universal Geneve stuff, so it’s all kind of endless, right?

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A closeup of some of those Heuer Carreras- photo recognition: Richard Sibbald

The hobby is certainly capable of render infinite penetration and an infinite hunting, if you want that.

Lee: Anything is open to insanity! I think you learn pretty quickly how far you want to go when you first start collecting anything, plainly depending on what kind of collector you’re naturally lowered to be. I’m a completist by nature, so I find that I want a wide array of watches from the producers that I like, but you really have to learn your flavor and what you can wear. I have a Rolex Daytona that I affection, but sometimes when I’m wearing it, I feel like it lures too much attention and there’s something I don’t been fucking loving that.

” You have to go through this as a collector; you have to buy some of the wrong watches to know what’s the liberty watch for you .”




I think what you’re talking about is one of the things I love about a Heuer Siffert. You have to know what you’re looking at to really appreciate it, but to the average person, it’s time an old-fashioned( gorgeou) chronograph.

Lee: Or what makes a Rolex 1016 Explorer the almost perfect watch in a way. It’s got a super elegant dial and it’s super functional, but it’s classic and stylish seem. It’s the right immensity and that dial is just so beautiful to my seeing. Most beings won’t inevitably notice it, but by idol, watch people sure do!

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Geddy’s Rolex Explorer 1016 and Canadian-market Explorer

Last time we chatted about collecting, it was about your bass guitars and you had said that part of your motive as a collector is an attraction to the human ingenuity that goes into these things. I find most people that rally watches often glamorize either the technological area of wristwatches or the historical significance of them — whether it be motorsports, aviation, military service. Is that true-blue of you and do you find yourself pulled to one side of the collecting coin?

Lee: To me, watches are spaces into history and an opportunity to learn. When I started get interested in Heuer, I started reading about them and that’s when I learned about the connection to race driving and the persons involved. I’m not a motorsports fan or anything like that. I didn’t know who Jo Siffert was before I bought the watch. There’s so many of these play watches that are connected to race drivers and then you informed about them and learn nonsense like what an “Evil Nina” is and who it refers to[ Universal Geneve 885103/01, the black-dialed variant of the watch often witnessed on the wrist of Nina Rindt, widow of the late Formula 1 motorist Jochen Rindt ]. I’ve always been a autobiography buff and these things are artifacts of a season and a place, and I think that’s why I far removed from modern watches and prefer to have things from specified period of time, because a big part of it is how expressive those periods are for me.

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Geddy’s Universal Geneve Tri-Compax- photo ascribe: Richard Sibbald

Have you been gravitating towards something specific for your daily wear now that you’re off tour?

Lee: I try to wear a different watch daily or every couple of eras. Right now it’s an early’ 70 s Heuer Carrera ref. 73653 with a blue dial — genuinely, really beautiful watch. But it’s been acting funny lately, and I think that’s because it hasn’t been tattered fairly, so I’m wearing it to make it happy again. I tend to wear Heuers reasonably regularly these days since I’m genuinely crushing on them right now.

I don’t wear my Pateks at all unless I’m going out for the night or something that requires me going dressed in fine clothing. I’ve got a really lovely Rolex Datejust with a off-color dial that’s a standby for daily wear. I’m a sucker for a blue-blooded dial.

I recently detected a Canadian-market-exclusive Rolex Explorer that was never exported, and while they were called an Explorer, they kind of where the precede of the 5500 — actually is an Air King than an Explorer. But it says Explorer on the dial and that’s a really lovely watch that I could wear every day.

The only brand-new watch I’ve bought recently is a Longines Avigation BigEye because it’s such a great travel watch. If I’m traveling far afield, like proceeding hiking in the Andes or something like that and carting all my gear around, I don’t want to worry about scratching a watch. Too, if I’m waking up at different times of date, I like having a watch with your biggest dial that’s glowing so that if I’m jet lagged out-of-my-mind, I can look at my wrist and immediately know where the inferno I am and what time it is.

photo credit: Richard Sibbald

I’ve ever seen you wear a watch on-stage.

Lee: Nope, I think it feels eerie and looks weird up there. It’s about as useful as a date window on a Submariner, and it always disturb me as a silly thing.

” Buy what you love. I think that’s the way to collect and feel good about your collecting .”

Is there anything you’re not into at all as a watch collector?

Lee: It’s funny, but the majority of members of my watches are fairly simple. I don’t have a lot of watches with big complications, but I have a friend who is preoccupied with complications and we text each other what we’re wearing on a daily basis. He’s got a lot of A. Lange& Sohne and Memovoxes, and a lot of moonphase watches, and that’s been a race education for me.

For instance, I recently wanted to understand the whole story of Glashutte because I’d seen this elegant Glashutte watch from the’ 60 s. I recognized I didn’t know anything about that company or that field, so I started reading about it. It was all just so fascinating to me. Through that, I started reading about tourbillons and the history of those and why they’re important, and why they’re so respected. I too learned that most chronographs were driven by practicality — concluded for physicians or aviators! These are instruments that people’s lives is dependent on, so they only form-follows-function in the purest gumption, and I have great respect for that. I enjoy speaking narratives about the beginnings of these things and the craftsman that devote countless hours tinkering away at them and perfecting them.

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Live and without a watch- photo recognition: Andrew MacNaughtan

I have a couple of armed watches and though I recognise they’re not my thing, I was so fascinated by them and these objectives. You have to go through this as a collector; you have to buy some of the inaccurate watches to know what’s the title watch for you. I still have a few military watches and I like the ones that relate to my home and native land. I have an older Breitling single pusher that was formed for the RCAF, so the first time I read that advertised, I had to have it as a Canadian. But I detected myself not wearing it very often and sometimes with that you need to pass it on to another collector that it’ll mean more to. I think that’s an important part of being a collector. Buy what you love. I think that’s the way to collect and feel good about your collecting. There’s a million things you could accumulate out there, but ask yourself if you really affection it and if it’s you.

Have you connected with other musicians that rally since catching the bug in earnest?

Lee: The only other musician that I know who compiles is Matt Scannell from Vertical Horizon. The last-place hour I pictured him we spoke watches for a good sum of duration because he had just gotten a rare Seiko and I was really excited about a Rolex 1016 with a reasonably flawless dial I had only been acquired. So he’s the only musician I personally know who’s a watch geek, but I’m sure there are a ton of other ones out there. I started coming emails and sends on Instagram after a photograph was affixed of myself and Alex[ Lifeson, Rush guitarist ], and in it I was wearing my Tudor Sub. All of the rapid, I had all of these watch chaps messaging me about the watch.

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Geddy with an exceptional Rolex GMT, a Hofner Bass, and two Norwich Terriers- photo recognition: Richard Sibbald

Is there anything you’re hunting specific right now?

Lee: Right now, I’m looking for that early Longines Compressor I mentioned earlier. And I’m looking for a really nice 5513 Rolex Submariner with a glossy gilt dial — I love the glossy dials. I have a pepsi bezel GMT from the’ 60 s with a silky dial and I only admire that watch and I’d love to have the Sub version of it. I’d likewise cherish a Nina Rindt Universal Geneve. So, that’s what’s on my hitlist right now. I also have a Heuer 2447 change panda, which is one of my top three all-time favorite watches and I’d love to find the panda copy, which seems more elusive.

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